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Paynesville Press - November 28, 2001

School levy will not get second vote

By Michael Jacobson

A second levy referendum for the Paynesville Area School District will not be held in December.

District voters rejected the $315 per pupil operating levy on Tuesday, Nov. 6: 687 for to 886 against. The school board - feeling the public was not aware of what budget cuts would need to be made without the extra revenue from the levy - held an emergency meeting two days after the election to approve another levy referendum for Thursday, Dec. 27.

The board had to act quickly to get another vote in 2001. Only if the levy would have passed before the first of the year would the district have received the tax money and state funds in the 2002-03 school year.

But the state department of Children, Families, and Learning did not give its approval for another levy vote. The district tried to get the state to change its mind, using local legislators, but to no avail.

The district no longer has time to prepare for an election in late December, said superintendent Howard Caldwell on Monday. To hold a levy referendum, the district had to follow certain timelines: providing information to district residents, ordering ballots, etc.

The district has informed the county to cancel its referendum request, said Caldwell. "We've lost enough time that we can't get the job done," he explained.

Without the levy, the district is expected to undergo major budget cuts again. The district is in statutory operating debt due to the negative balance of unrestricted money in its general fund. Statutory operating debt status requires the district to present a plan as to how the district will improve its financial position to the state by the end of January.

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